Dubai, United Arab Emirates – After dropping the first set in stunning fashion, reigning champion and five-time titlist Roger Federer roared back to win his opening-round match at the $1.785 Dubai Tennis Championships.
The second-seeded Swiss icon lost the first set to Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri before rebounding for a 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory on the hardcourts at Dubai Tennis Stadium, where former women's Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova captured a WTA title last week.
"It important to sort of react and make sure I didn't panic," said Federer. "But, of course your mind starts to wander, especially in a match where there is hardly any rallies. He's going for broke on every return. All you're trying to do is get into some rallies, and you're missing a lot yourself.
"It was a difficult match for me out here tonight, but I'm happy I found a way and got a day off now so I can work a little bit on the game. Just maybe the pressure is off a little bit, and then automatically I will play a lot better in the second round."
The Wimbledon champion Federer, a seven-time Dubai finalist, beat U.S. Open champ Andy Murray in last year's marquee Dubai finale.
In other action involving seeds, No. 7 Andreas Seppi of Italy topped France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 7-5 and No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia overcame Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. Youzhny was a Dubai finalist in 2007 and 2010.
Additional Day-1 wins came for Indian qualifier Somdev Devvarman, German qualifier Daniel Brands, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, and Czech Lukas Rosol.
The first round will conclude on Tuesday, including matches for world No. 1 star Novak Djokovic, third-seeded Tomas Berdych, fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro, and last week's Marseille titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who upended Berdych in a three-set final thriller in France.
The Australian Open champion Djokovic is a three-time Dubai winner (2009-11).